As new Plant Protection Products are developed, there is a need to ensure that they are safe for the aquatic environment. The new E-Flows mesocosm provides a unique test-bed to demonstrate this.
CHAPs ground breaking project, supported by Innovate UK and developed, designed, managed & operated by Fera will create 60 realistic streams, each up to two metres wide and ten metres long, each having a continuous matched supply of aged fresh water, and all being independent of each other. This provides a facility that is a realistic, but closely controlled, facsimile of edge-of-field surface waters that can be exposed to novel products in a real-world scenario to ensure the safety of our aquatic habitats. This unique facility represents a leap forward in the support of Higher Tier Risk Assessments.
Each 10m experimental unit has a base volume of up to 4000 litres, and for the first time, can be supplied with non-recirculated, fully flow through freshwater at any rate up to five litres per minute per unit. This means that the E-flows facility as a whole can handle up to 400 cubic metres of water per day – that’s over an Olympic sized swimming pool every week! All waste water can be treated though a purpose built tertiary treatment prior to release. The flow can be varied independently in each stream unit, so that they can be slow flowing, like ditches, or even almost still, like ponds. The biota established in each unit will be in accordance with the type of habitat being simulated. This will minimise the stress to the organisms that can occur in artificial habitats.
Also, the variable retention time that is controlled by the flow regime, means that exposures can be pulsed in a way that is very close to that models predict will occur in real edge-of-field waterbodies after rainfall events and from drain flows etc. Facilitating useful Higher Tier Risk Assessment The E-Flows mesocosm will be available for risk assessment projects such as these, or any other research projects involving impacts or effects on lowland aquatic habitats from spring 2018 onwards.
CHAP is one of four Centres for Agricultural Innovation and a key component of the government’s Agri-Tech Strategy.The simple fact is that climate change and a range of other factors including anticipated population growth and the degradation of ecosystems is making it increasingly difficult to meet the global demand for food in a sustainable way. To feed the growing world population, we must rely on increasing our crop yields. In turn, this will mean we need to make significant progress in both fundamental and applied science of plants, microbes and soils and including protection from economically damaging pests, pathogens & weeds.
Why not watch the Edge-Of-Field Waterbody Safety (E-Flows) Assessment Facility animation - Europe’s most advanced edge-of-field water assessment facility.
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